What impressed me about the interview, beside the fact that someone like Glenn Close is telling her family’s story, is that her sister, Jessie, who has bipolar disorder was not diagnosed until her late 40s. Her late 40s! Apparently, there were certain signs of troubling behavior when Jessie was a teenager but the family did not recognize signs of mental illness. It was only after Jessie’s own son was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder that the family recognized that Jessie too suffered from a brain disorder.
When Jessie was a teenager 30 plus years ago there wasn’t as much known about the symptoms of bipolar disorder as there are now. As Glenn Close says in relation to her family, “We were clueless.” I can relate; I certainly didn’t recognize that some of my son’s behavior was due to bipolar disorder–even after he was diagnosed in his early twenties.
Bipolar disorder often begins in mid-to-late adolescence or early adulthood and an episode of bipolar illness can occur seasonally, most often in the spring or autumn, on an annual or bi-annual basis. There may or may not be a major life stressor that precipitates an episode, although the underlying biochemical problems make people with bipolar disorder more vulnerable to emotional and physical stresses. As a result, upsetting life experiences, substance use, or lack of sleep can trigger an episode of illness.
The following is a list of some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder. This list is not meant as a diagnostic tool; it is intended for information only. Hopefully, the more we understand the symptoms of a brain disorder the less stigma there will be.
- intense mood swings, quiet or angry
- unpredictable moods
- flatness of mood
- trouble containing anger and irritability
- talking endlessly, mind racing, rambling
- pressured speech
- obsessive repetition or increased activity
- loss of concentration
- dramatic change in appearance
- self-imposed isolation from friends and family
- trouble falling asleep and staying asleep
- chronic insomnia
- decreased need for sleep
Glenn Close says that her profession has perpetuated the stigma about mental illness by making people who have a mental illness dangerous or violent and she is committed to changing the discrimination, prejudice and stigma about mental illness in our society today.
- On Stigma (clofenferhth.wordpress.com)
- Homeland and Bipolar Disorder: How TV Characters Are Changing the Way We View Mental Illness (healthland.time.com)
- Increase Seen in Bipolar Disorder Diagnoses (123mymdblog.com)
- A Mother Speaks Out About the Stigma of Mental Illness (welding81.wordpress.com)
- Substance abuse and bipolar disorder: A lethal mix (vancouversun.com)